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The Most Depressing Songs | Rounds.com Blog
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The Most Depressing Songs

Whenever feeling down, sometimes the best thing is to just let all the sadness and/or anger out in one go, crying until it hurts your eyes, and then having a little sleep that usually makes it all better. In order to aid the process, musicians have come up with melodies and lyrics that encapsulate these feelings and give us something to latch on to when humanity fails us. Here are a few good examples:

 

Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley:

This song is so sad that even Shrek, the loveable children’s animation, uses it to set the mood.This song takes you from the highs provided by Donkey’s hilarity, down into the pits of despair. Think of children’s laughter. This song kills the laughter of children. That’s some powerful stuff. Who could resist such words as:

Well maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who’d outdrew ya
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen in the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

- Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

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Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Nina Simone:

This song is amazing. The construction, the softness backed by the sharp percussion and the lyrics that pierce through to the heart of any self-conscious bugger out there; it’s relatable, beautiful and even a bit catchy. Furthermore, Nina Simone’s voice is unparalleled in its power but she comes across so unwillingly vulnerable and soft in this, you just want to give her a hug! As opposed to a song like “Pirate Jenny” where your only instinct is to run away from her.

Sometimes I find myself alone regretting
some little foolish thing
some simple thing that I’ve done
I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

- Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Nina Simone

 

Oh You Pretty Things & Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie:

“Oh You Pretty Things” is awesome, as is David Bowie. If you listen to this song soon after reading something like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, something Orwellian or else Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, you find all the meaning of the world in this song.

I think about a world to come
Where the books were found by the Golden ones
Written in pain, written in awe
By a puzzled man who questioned
What we came here for

- Oh You Pretty Things by David Bowie


 

Next up, a PSA by a guy who’s been there and done that in “Ashes to Ashes”:

I’ve never done good things
I’ve never done bad things
I never did anything out of the blue, woh-o-oh
Want an axe to break the ice
Wanna come down right now

- Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie

 

Blue by Patsy Cline:

This song is beautiful and heart-breaking. The way she yodels the “Blue” is so powerful. Great song to set to the background of your uncontrollable sobbing and choking before you black out in an alcohol-induced stupor.

Three o’clock in the mornin, here am I
Sitting here so lonely, so lonesome I could cry
Blue
Oh, so lonesome for you
Why can’t you be blue over me?

- Blue by Patsy Cline


 

Anything by The Smiths:

Seriously, these guys are a total buzz-kill. Even the somewhat jaunty “Unhappy Birthday” makes you want to get a catapult to launch yourself off a cliff into a stormy ocean and make the pain of living go away.

Surely you’re happy
It should be this way?
I said “No”
And then I shot myself.
So, drink, drink, drink
And be ill tonight.

- Unhappy Birthday by The Smiths


The Smiths – How Soon Is Now
Uploaded by stevanhogg. – Watch more music videos in HD!

 

Broken Toy by Keane:

If you like soft rock that doesn’t get too extreme about depression but still manages to strike a nerve, you can definitely go with Keane’s Under the Iron Sea album. It is a brilliant progression of melancholy from “Nothing in My Way” which sounds like some poor senior citizen who’s been knocked down and is striving to find a reason to get back up; to “Bad Dream” which just makes you want to bawl your eyes out even if everything is fine; to “Hamburg Song” which is fit for a funeral march; and then on through to “Broken Toy”. The beat of “Broken Toy” manages to sound both driven and unmotivated, repetitive and yet inescapably convincing with each repetition, preventing you from getting tired of it. Then the lyrics just seal the deal:

I look out for you
Come rain, come shine
What good does it do?
I guess I’m a toy that is broken
I guess we’re just older now

- Broken Toy by Keane

Oh, Keane! What about that “Somewhere Only We Know”, can’t we go there and make it work?

I wake up, it’s a bad dream,
No one on my side,
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
to be fighting,
guess I’m not the fighting kind.
Wouldn’t mind it
if you were by my side
But you’re long gone,
yeah you’re long gone now.

- A Bad Dream by Keane

Okay, dude, fine, I get it, be that way. Just trying to help.

 

Creep by Radiohead:

While described by a friend as: “more whiny than depressing” I still choose this song. Nothing sums up adolescent awkwardness or the simple humanity of being unsure of yourself as “Creep”. Furthermore, for a good cry, Radiohead is pretty great background music. Even though the lyrics of a song like “Pyramid Song” boast cheerful images like:

All my lovers were there with me
All my past and futures
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

- Pyramid Song by Radiohead

You still feel like the song could summon ghosts if played too loud or in a dark room. Since everybody knows “Creep”, here is a live performance of “Videotape” instead:

 

Torn by Natalia Imbruglia:

For the quiet and feminine sort of depression, you can sample some 90′s pop. If you want to feel pathetic, this song has plenty of fodder for you, it is not pleasant stuff:

Nothing’s fine I’m torn
I’m all out of faith
This is how I feel
I’m cold and I am shamed
Lying naked on the floor


 

Hybrid Theory Album by Linkin Park:

In order to serve every kind of depression that occurs, this category goes out to those angst-ridden teenagers who feel voiceless and filled with rage. It seems very necessary to go through a Linkin Park/My Chemical Romance period or something of a similar nature during one’s life. Just as long as it’s a phase then you’re all right and it’s somewhat healthy to find out that there are people like you, writing words that express exactly what you feel.

I’m sick of the tension, sick of the hunger
Sick of you acting like I owe you this
Find another place, to feed your greed -
While I find a place to rest

- A Place for My Head by Linkin Park

You love the things I say I’ll do
The way I hurt myself again just to get back at you
You take away when I give in
My life
My pride is broken

- Point of Authority by Linkin Park


 

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge Album by My Chemical Romance:

This album is dark to the point of comedic effect. While perhaps backed by genuine emotion, the theatrical presentation makes most of their lyrics seem disingenuous IMO. All the same, I loved these guys when I was going through my most “teenagery” moments. Neo-Goth at its finest:

Way down, mark the grave
Where the search lights find us
Drinking by the mausoleum door
And they found you on the bathroom floor

- Cemetery Drive by My Chemical Romance


 

Eleanor Rigby and A Day in the Life by The Beatles:

Subtlety is an art that you only learn to appreciate once you’ve grown out of the previous phase. Then you begin to appreciate music and lyrics that speak to the futility of life that we all sometimes feel. Enter: The Beatles with two beautiful ballads. These are songs to saw your wrists with rusty knives to:

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came

- Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles

Or how about this toe-tapper:

He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords.

- A Day in the Life by The Beatles

 

I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston:

This song is actually pretty sad when you hear some of the lyrics. The most striking one is:

Stay in my arms if you dare
Or must I imagine you there?

- I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston

Heavy.
 

Hurt by Johnny Cash:

Holy shit, if you don’t get the urge to decapitate yourself after this you might have to go to get tested or something:

 

Pagan Poetry by Björk:

This song is strong – especially when heard for the first time while watching the music video. The crescendo to the emotional burst at the end breaks your heart – even if you’ve never felt heartbreak and loss of self like that before. You even feel as though she’s taking you into this world of insanity, she gets more and more agitated and odd as the video progresses and then she just ends up looking wild, slightly grotesque and a little broken:

This time
I’m gonna keep me all to myself
(She loves him, she loves him)
And he makes me want to hurt myself

- Pagan Poetry by Björk

The video is a little bit racy, here is the link.
 

Gloomy Sunday a.k.a The Hungarian Suicide Song by Billie Holiday:

Yeah, that’s right, we’re getting really heavy now. This song is responsible for a lot of suicides apparently, to the point where they didn’t even play it on radio for a while. Killjoy Wikipedia and their precious “facts” say that that last part is made up and that it’s just an urban legend, but I think we all know what’s really going on here: Aliens hiding the truth!!! Based on a Hungarian poem by László Jávor, the lyrics of this song read like an emo kid’s scrawls:

Dearest the shadows I live with are numberless
Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought of ever returning you
Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?

- Gloomy Sunday by Billie Holiday

 

Yahhhh, Bitch, Yahhhhhh! by Soulja Boy:

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard it but it sure as hell depresses me about the future of the world.

Ain’t got time for chitchat
I’m tryin to get this money
So get up out my face
You doo-doo head dummy

- YAHHHH! by Soulja Boy


 

Once upon a time The Bard would dish out insults between his characters that would be painful enough to make a reader’s nipples curl such as:

“You should be women and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so”

-Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast killed

-Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Soulja Boy would turn that into: “Bitch, you uuuugly and yo’ mouth staaaank!”

To quote Bowie:

Look out at your children
See their faces in golden rays
Don’t kid yourself they belong to you
They’re the start of the coming race

-Oh You Pretty Things by David Bowie

Honourable Mentions otherwise this post could go on for ages:

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Bibo No Aozora and pretty much anything else from this guy, he’s a masterful composer.
Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box
Papa Roach – Last Resort
Green Day – Time of Your Life
N.E.R.D – Provider <- Watch that video!
REM - Everybody Hurts
Queen – It’s a Hard Life
Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
Angie Stone – I Wish I Didn’t Miss You

 
And so on. Add your songs in the comments! For a laugh, you can go read some funny Craigslist postings.



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7 Comments

  1. bee-rad

    HURT was written by TRENT REZNOR.

    JOHNNY CASH did what’s known in the trade as a “COVER.”

    Hurt is the final song in a concept album detailing the life of a fictional character. It is not about Johnny in any way.

  2. laguagua

    i must to say that “hyperballad” by bjork (also) is one of the most depressing and suicidal songs that i ever heard, even when it its also a dance song! Madonna has “Paradise (not for me)”, another depress-suicidal song :S

  3. Mark

    @Erik: Cohen might have wrote it, but by far, most people will know the Wainwright/Cale or Jeff Buckley version. Only music nerds will even know who Leonard Cohen is.

    The Shrek version is by Cale (or Wainwright), and IMO, nowhere near as good a Buckley’s. But my favorite Buckley song remains “Lover, You Should Have Come Over”

  4. Erik

    Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley? Who the f is Jeff Buckley? Lenard Cohen wrote and made this song famous.

  5. DS

    Pretty much anything by Damien Rice can ruin a good mood. Even his upbeat songs make you depressed… I think it’s his voice. “Delicate” and “Amie” are probably the stand outs though.

  6. len

    Possibly inappropriate, but here’s my candidate. Yeah, I recorded this but WTF. Someone said this was really depressing and I told them if it isn’t, I failed and they missed the point.

    “My Son’s Time To Go”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx3Xxg3lShU

  7. Pearl Jam – Jeremy

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